“Fresh” from the Arabian Peninsula, WWE heads to Montreal... where I’m pretty sure Sami Zayn is welcome and comfortable with appearing.
Well, I was right on one of the main events at Greatest Royal Rumble.
Not only in terms of predictions, but in how important they might be to the future of the company and its flagship brand. I figured the outcome of the Universal Championship match would be telling in that regard, but I didn’t see the 50 man Rumble match as being a key piece of the same puzzle.
Yes, include me among those who thinks we saw the latest sign in Jeddah that Vince McMahon has removed his wagon from Roman Reigns and latched it onto Braun Strowman as Raw’s top babyface star. Brock Lesnar still holds the red belt, and probably will for a while longer (considering he’s not booked for this week, or Backlash, or next Monday, or the European trip that follows, or... you get the idea). Reigns has a date with SmackDown’s Samoa Joe at the May 6 co-branded pay-per-view (PPV), and something like an excuse to ask for a third shot at Lesnar after his CONTROVERSIAL loss outside the steel cage in Saudi Arabia. But especially now that he’s got a green Greatest Royal Rumble title, the momentum is with Strowman - just like fan support has been for a while.
We’ll keep watching to see how these pieces are moved around the board in the coming months, but it’s hard to imagine we won’t see Braun continue on toward another showdown with Brock. Just as fascinating will be how the next phase of what pretty much has to be looked at as a failed push for Reigns is handled. Heel turn? Trip to the mid-card? Both?
Perhaps even more curious than the seeming failure of WWE’s plans for Roman is how successful their rollout of Ronda Rousey has been. Here’s a Superstar who is every bit as company-mandated for the top as The Big Dog ever was, and with a much less fan-friendly backstory, who has been completely embraced by the fans - at least so far. Why has fighting Triple H and a McMahon worked for Rowdy when it didn’t do much for Reigns? Will the next moves - like the program with veteran Mickie James set-up last week, or future run-ins with a line-up of heel fodder like The Riott Squad which is hinted at in this week’s official WWE.com Raw preview - succeed for Ronda where feuding with the likes of Big Show and League of Nations didn’t for Roman?
Truly, I don’t have an answer. But watching these characters/performers be embraced or rejected is one of the more interesting things to watch... on the April 30 episode of Raw, and in the ‘Reality’ Era in general.
The title scene
Another guy who’s been through the ebbs and flows of fan reaction is Intercontinental titleholder Seth Rollins. After a heel run at the top which people tired of, and a return audiences tried to embrace when WWE didn’t want them to, The Kingslayer is back as a workrate hero. His ladder-leaping win over friendly rival Finn Bálor last Friday sets him up nicely for another run-in with Team Blue’s all-rudo Miz this Sunday. Once that’s done, Rollins should have a list of challengers... possibly to include his Shield brother.
Neither is quite Nicholas material, but Woken Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt will have to do. Deleters of Worlds captured the tag belts at Greatest Royal Rumble, and since the team they defeated is now on SmackDown getting ready to feud with The Usos or The New Day, they’ll need new rivals, too. The team of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler (aka “The Show”) seem like a good place to start. Or maybe Authors of Pain? Actually, who cares... the important thing is whether or not Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas are about to get Woken.
In “A Moment of Bliss”, Alexa wowed her fans with by heel-splaining her way to a rematch with Women’s champ Nia Jax. They’re headed to a rematch this Sunday, where The Irresistable Force will attempt to deal with disingenous former friend for good.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- The Monday night premiere of The Sami and Kevin Show started out great, because who doesn’t love to see General Manager Kurt Angle get trolled? Sadly for them, it ended with Zayn being accosted by Mike Rome after Braun and Bobby Lashley threw them around the ring (and ringside area).
- They managed to get through a ten-woman tag without attacking each other, but Sasha Banks and Bayley were still not on the same page, as the signs of their long-simmering feud continued to show up even though there weren’t any new flare-ups.
- He says he underestimated him last week... will Bobby Roode be able to win a battle of the bearded dudes the next time he tries to WWE (Walk With Elias)?
- Chad Gable did not overlook Jinder Mahal, and took down the former WWE Champ last week. Now that The Modern Day Maharajah failed to recapture the U.S. Title from Jeff Hardy at Greatest Royal Rumble, Gable may need to look higher up the card for competition.
- Do not try to dance in a conga line around Baron Corbin. Just ask No Way Jose.
It’s the Backlash ‘go home’ - and the Greatest Royal Rumble fallout - show!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?